There is something paradoxical about Christmas. What do I mean? We can look forward to it but we can dread it at the same time. It is a great time for families to come together and reconnect, celebrate and show their love for one another. Yet, it is a time when many people experience family tensions, anxieties and sometimes even violence. It is a time when we buy presents and express our love and affection for those around us. Yet, it can put people under financial stress too. So, indeed Christmas is a paradox.
Despite the paradox, for Christians, Christmas holds before us a new and hope-filled future. The effort, and sometimes struggle, to make Christmas ‘work’ for our families and for our communities, represents the task that is before us at all times. We gather to share a meal. On this day we want a place at the table for everyone. We don’t want family or friends to miss out. This is a day when we want everyone to feel that they belong, that we can put aside differences and tensions and sit around the table together. In this sense Christmas is symbolic of our hopes and dreams for a world where everyone can indeed sit side by side in peace.
That is why there will be sadness when border restrictions and pandemic politics will keep people separated at Christmas. That is why so many people reach out to the homeless and lonely on Christmas Day. We do our best to connect with both our loved ones and the vulnerable in whatever way we can.
We will exchange gifts. And despite the temptation for our culture to over-commercialise Christmas-gift-giving, there is also something sacramental about giving and receiving a gift. Preparing a gift or writing a card to someone tells them that you are thinking about them, it creates a sense of solidarity and connection among us. It lets us know that our human dignity is worth celebrating and that other people are worth rejoicing in and showering with good things.
For Christians, what we do at Christmas, is symbolic of what God is doing for the whole of creation as God’s dream for the world unfolds. God is the one who gathers us around the one table. God is the one who showers us with blessings. Remember Mary’s song of praise, the Magnificat: God raises up the lowly, fills the starving with good things, remembers God’s mercy and comes to our help.
Christmas might be a paradox but it is also a day when we can glimpse a vision of what the world could be like and to experience something of the dream of God for all of humanity.
Christmas blessings to you from me and our Parish Team.
Fr Brendan Reed
Thank you Brendan, Trac and all at Parish House. How could we have managed this year without your love and concern for us all. May your Christmas be a happy time in whatever way is best for you. We have a wonderful parish because of you and you and you!
Thank you Father Brendan and Father Trac for the lovely Christmas Message and special thanks to Tricia Norman and Kate Baines who have supported me in my roles within the Parish.
Unfortunately this will be the first Christmas in over 30 years that John and I will not be attending the Christmas Mass at OLV. Anyway, I will be back in January and looking forward to catching up with everyone.
Dear Father thank you for your very comforting message hope you and Fr Trac enjoy Christmas
I am thrilled to start my Christmas at the family mass May everyone have a happy and Holly Christmas and New Year Pamela
Such a beautiful message. Thank you!
Hi Fr Brendan, Absolutely love your Christmas message. How absolutely true your words are and how much they reflect what is everyone's Christmas Day in some way or another. This is where I want to share something that I find really makes our Christmas and it is that every year we invite someone who has no where to go for Christmas. Sometimes it's one person, sometimes it's more, some years it's the same person as previous years and sometimes it's someone new because our previous orphans have found "a home to belong to". For us what makes Christmas so special is because it's the one time of the year where we create "a home and a feeling of belonging, being cherished and being loved" for someone who normally might not have a home where they feel they belong. This is the spirit to Christmas. Have a fabulous festive season despite it being busy for you and Fr Trac. See you on the trail and at Mass as we all return to the pews. Merry Christmas. Yolanda and Douglas